Today is the last regular season game for David Ortiz, the most important Boston sports persona of my life. I'm a grown ass woman and I am going to cry like a baby during the ceremony. Like a BABY.
What does David Ortiz mean to us? Just everything. He was a cast away from a team that didn't know what to do with him. He came to us, a huge man with a huge personality and a huge heart. He's been a leader on the field, in life and in our hearts. See, in our absolute darkest of times, after having been eliminated in the 2003 ALCS in the most excruciating way, living through the long, long off season where we didn't sign ARod (lesson: what you think you want is not always what you really need), after a magical season to find ourselves in the playeoffs against our most fierce rival, only to go down 3-0, losing game 3 in the most humilating of fashsions. We were going to get swept by the New York Yankees on our own field. The abyss loomed and the dread was palpable. And then Millar walked (there is life for the Red Sox), Dave Roberts came in to pitch run, Bill Mueller waited through a number of throw overs (Bill Mueller still waiting for his first pitch), until Dave Roberts stole second, the Mueller hit him in (Bill Mueller... has tied it). For three excrutating innings we remained tied, late into the night. No one went to bed. No one went to bed for the entire ALCS, actually.
And then.... Ortiz into deep right field. Back is Sheifield. We'll see you later tonight.
The Red Sox didn't lose another game that season, winning three more against the Yankees, then four straight against the Cardinals to win the World Series. That is what hope, heart and hard work can do. That swing changed a fan base long used to losing, long used to heart break. We have pre-2004 and post-2004 thinking now. What he gave us was hope. Hope that even when things appear their darkest, things can still change, things can get better. Every time he approaches the plate, there is hope that this game can turn around. Life can turn around. And that is priceless. Thank you so much for that gift, my friend.
So many other hits, so many other memories... from worst to first, to worst to worst to first again, and then in our darkest time, he reminded us what really matters. An immigrant who became a US citizen, but whose home is Boston, he is what this country is all about.
So today will be the last regular season game, but we still have the playoffs, so I don't have to say goodbye just yet. But we will miss you and everything you represent, our Big Papi.
EXTRA... for those of you don't know what it was like to be a Red Sox fan and just how much we changed after 2004 (and 2007 and 2013), I highly encourage you to watch the following back to back:
Still We Believe. The Boston Red Sox Movie. A documentary about the 2003 season..
Four Days in October. The four days where the Red Sox went from 0-3 in the ALCS to the World Series.
Oh and by the way, the 2004 ALCS? His hit won Game 5, too.
And yeah, he hit a grand slam in the 2013 World Series. The picture of the cop in the bullpen is STILL my phone home screen.
And if you need more, and there is more...